PAP rules to change

The Publications Assistance Program (PAP) could quickly become much more inclusive for community newspapers.

That was the message from Heritage Canada Minister Sheila Copps at the Canadian Community Newspapers Association (CCNA) Better Newspapers Competition in Vancouver, B.C. on May 31.

Earlier, staff from Heritage Canada told the CCNA Board that the PAP rules for community newspapers would likely be relaxed slightly, allowing for the inclusion of 126 more newspapers into the program. Tighter rules would likely result for other print publications, including magazines, that would free up about $2.2 million for PAP.

CCNA’s PAP committee of Chair Fred Heidman, (OCNA), Heather Dickson (QCNA), Bob Heath (SWNA), Melanie Bell (OCNA), Bryan McCristall (BCYCNA) and Peter Kvarnstrom (BCYCNA) have been working for some time to help members with PAP.

Currently the program budgets up to $46.4 million per year to offset costs of mailing copies to Canadian subscribers. About 385 community newspaper titles receive $5.5 million annually.

The rules changes would include allowing community newspapers publishing between 12 and 52 times per year, as opposed to the 50 times per year required currently. Heritage Canada staff have said they hope they will see new entrants into the program from publications serving smaller or remote communities, including ethnocultural communities. The changes would also Increase maximum circulation of publication and population of place of publication to 25,000 to maintain focus on news delivery to small communities.

Other changes to PAP would include calculating funding as a percentage of mailing costs in order to ÔÇÿreward efficiencies,ÔÇÖ tying funding level to volume mailed in order to recognize economies of scale, easing eligibility for publications serving small geographic communities and aboriginal, ethnocultural and minority official language communities and removing commercial newsletters.

The new guidelines for the program will be available in July, 2003. CCNA will post the new guidelines on as soon as they become available.

The program works by paying the difference between the reference tariff and actual mailing costs. The PAP reference tariff, or subsidized rate, is calculated based on the actual cost of Publications Mail in addition to negotiated amounts for volume rebates and other contributions from Canada Post.

Current eligibility criteria include: must be a Canadian-owned magazine, weekly newspaper or commercial newsletter, must have Canadian editorial content, must be edited, designed, assembled, published and printed in Canada, must have 50 per cent paid circulation, advertising must not be greater than 70 per cent, must be mailed in Canada to addresses in Canada and does not include promotional material.